Building confidence in a rider is like walking on eggshells. Being sure that you are stepping in the right places, but doing it with care.
Patience is key, as is an open mind to finding any little niche that might help that person smash through the very real barriers that are holding them back. In Jack’s case, outside motivation and a decent incentive turned out to be the key.
Going for Gold
Jack has blown me away with his confidence in the past. He rode like an animal in order to win a new Shoei helmet from his dad, and I will never forget the time he held the throttle open on his CRF100 to squeeze back past the rider who had just passed him. It was an inspiring example of pure determination, essentially giving him both the win and the helmet. We needed some of that juice right now.
He needed to lean the bike more in turns and then to turn the throttle harder on the straights, so this is where I needed to coach like I was walking through those eggshells.
We hit the start straight to take away all fear. Leaning forward to power hard and leaning back to brake hard is the usual approach here, but first he needed to lean more into the flat turn. Jack, like many, seemed to find it is less scary to brake slide or power slide part way around a turn than lean more. That was brave enough in its own right, but not going to cut it today.
First he needed to stay off the throttle until the worst of the turn was done, no matter how much he wanted to avoid the lean. He ticked that box straight away and it wasn’t long before he was also carrying more speed into the turn. Then he proved that it wasn’t a fluke by doing the same thing on the track, but he definitely needed to be powering harder once the turn was done. This time the focus was on how he put his leg out for balance.
Tight and Right
Perhaps he had picked up on part of what the pros do in the deepest ruts who can sometimes ride with their leg quite straight, except his was away from the bike and not back on the peg until long after he could have been powering hard. He was also missing the key to stability that comes from pointing his toe, so I got the chance to do some demonstrations. On his bike too.
At times it was like he was taking two steps forward then one step back, but eventually his bike was starting to really sound good as he turned the throttle heaps harder than before. The real test came when his dad decided to take his best lap time, and sure enough, he smashed it.
There is much more to this coaching business than just dishing out the skills. As the old saying goes, “Easy does it”, and I’m pretty sure he deserved a treat of his choice on the way home.